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GODDESS RISING

From the Goddess Rising series , Vol. 3

A rousing mystical tale and smashing series finale.

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In this third installment of a supernatural trilogy, a ghost hunter and a college graduate’s excursion into magic opens up a world of deities, angels, and the devil himself.

Twenty-four year-old Desiree Macklin is vacationing in Ireland when she first meets Alec Doogan. The author and paranormal researcher seems fascinated by Desiree, who suggests using his “detection equipment” on someone undergoing a religious experience. But their research, including testing for ectoplasm at St. Patrick’s gravesite, prompts a stranger’s warning. Joseph de Alverado, an angel of the Egyptian god Ptah, cautions that they’re “toying with fire.” Dr. Sanantha Mauwad, a Voodou practitioner and Desiree’s psychiatrist, knows that Joseph once served an evil man named Silas. Having once saved Desiree from death, which entailed Voodou goddess Erzulie gifting the young woman a soul, Sanantha flies to Dublin out of concern for her patient. Alec, meanwhile, delves into magic, like spells for summoning spirits, which soon garners a following after its exposure online. But somewhere out there is a threat: Sammael, sometimes called Satan, whom Sanantha battled nearly a decade ago in Washington, D.C., targets Desiree due to her connection with Erzulie. The goddess, wanting revenge against Sammael, may welcome a war, regardless of the potentially disastrous outcome. Hartlove loads this dense, sharply written tale with characters and events. Joining the others in Ireland, for example, are Sanantha’s estranged boyfriend, Simon Herrera, who hasn’t quite finalized his divorce, and FBI Special Agent Jill Bitterman, who’s reinvestigating the Washington case involving the psychiatrist. The steadily paced narrative superbly incorporates different religions, showing distinctions as well as commonalities (including a figure as “the source of all evil in the world”). Though Hartlove strongly ties this novel to the preceding installments, his skillful storytelling ensures that new readers won’t be lost. The trilogy is nevertheless best enjoyed from the start, as there are myriad spoilers in this volume.

A rousing mystical tale and smashing series finale. (dedication, author bio)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949139-68-6

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Paper Angel Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2020

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THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE

A weird, wild ride.

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Celebrity scandal and a haunted lake drive the narrative in this bestselling author’s latest serving of subtly ironic suspense.

Sager’s debut, Final Girls (2017), was fun and beautifully crafted. His most recent novels—Home Before Dark (2020) and Survive the Night (2021) —have been fun and a bit rickety. His new novel fits that mold. Narrator Casey Fletcher grew up watching her mother dazzle audiences, and then she became an actor herself. While she never achieves the “America’s sweetheart” status her mother enjoyed, Casey makes a career out of bit parts in movies and on TV and meatier parts onstage. Then the death of her husband sends her into an alcoholic spiral that ends with her getting fired from a Broadway play. When paparazzi document her substance abuse, her mother exiles her to the family retreat in Vermont. Casey has a dry, droll perspective that persists until circumstances overwhelm her, and if you’re getting a Carrie Fisher vibe from Casey Fletcher, that is almost certainly not an accident. Once in Vermont, she passes the time drinking bourbon and watching the former supermodel and the tech mogul who live across the lake through a pair of binoculars. Casey befriends Katherine Royce after rescuing her when she almost drowns and soon concludes that all is not well in Katherine and Tom’s marriage. Then Katherine disappears….It would be unfair to say too much about what happens next, but creepy coincidences start piling up, and eventually, Casey has to face the possibility that maybe some of the eerie legends about Lake Greene might have some truth to them. Sager certainly delivers a lot of twists, and he ventures into what is, for him, new territory. Are there some things that don’t quite add up at the end? Maybe, but asking that question does nothing but spoil a highly entertaining read.

A weird, wild ride.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-18319-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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